EU special mission to enforce arms embargo on Libya

18 Feb 2020; MEMO: Italy’s Foreign Minister said on Monday that he and his counterparts across the European Union have agreed to form a special mission to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.

Luigi di Maio explained that the mission would include a naval ship to ensure that the embargo is effective.

The Deputy Special Representative of the UN Support Mission to Libya, Stephanie Williams, told reporters on Sunday that “the arms embargo has become a joke.”

UK's Frost says ready for 'Australia-terms' FTA if EU still has doubts

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain’s negotiator with the European Union said on Monday that London was prepared to accept an “Australia-style” free trade agreement with the bloc if its member states continue to have doubts about the terms of a no-quotas, no-tariffs deal.

The EU does not have a free trade agreement with Australia, and so such an arrangement would effectively be a trade relationship governed by World Trade Organization rules.

US House speaker Pelosi warns allies against using Huawei

BRUSSELS (AP) — No NATO ally should succumb to the temptation of letting Chinese tech giant Huawei into their next-generation cellular networks, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday at Allied headquarters, turning U.S. opposition to Huawei into a bipartisan effort.

Pelosi said the invasion of privacy that would result from having Huawei integrated into Europe’s 5G communication networks would be “like having the state police, the Chinese state police, right in your pocket.”

EU extends arms embargo against Belarus, travel ban on four individuals

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union on Monday extended until Feb. 28, 2021, an arms embargo on Belarus and an asset freeze against four nationals from the ex-Soviet republic, according to a statement.

The measures include an embargo on trade in arms and equipment “that could be used for internal repression” as well as an asset freeze and travel ban against four people the bloc links to “the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and in 2000,” the bloc said in its statement.

EU split over naval mission amid Libya arms embargo concerns

BRUSSELS (AP) — A number of European Union countries are still blocking any move to resume a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea over concerns that it might encourage migrants to set out from Libya in search of better lives in Europe, the EU’s top diplomat said Monday.

The naval mission, Operation Sophia, was launched in 2015 amid a wave of migration across the sea from North Africa to Europe. The aim was to crack down on migrant smugglers and enforce a U.N. arms embargo on conflict-torn Libya, which is routinely being flouted.

Brussels seeks to bring home children of Belgian militants in Syria

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 14 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Belgium is working to bring home all children of Belgian militants held in refugee camps in Syria, providing their mothers’ consent, Foreign Minister Philippe Goffin said.

So far, 42 children in two camps in northeastern Syria have been identified as those of Belgian militants, according to aides of Belgian Foreign Minister Philippe Goffin.

U.S., Taliban negotiate proposal for seven-day reduction in violence

BRUSSELS, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on Thursday that the United States and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan.

"We've said all along the best, if not only, solution in Afghanistan is a political agreement," Esper told reporters following a two-day NATO defense ministerial meeting in Brussels.

Without giving any clear timetable, Esper only said "progress has been on this front, and we have more to report on that soon."

With Britain out, the unwieldy EU faces major budget battle

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Brexit drama shook the foundations of the European Union for years and laid bare the need for much-delayed political renovations at the 27-nation bloc. But now that Britain has finally left, where does the EU revamp even start and who is going to foot the bill?

Those questions loom large for EU officials and European leaders alike, because substantial structural changes require some common vision of what a future EU should look like.

NATO willing to expand Iraqi training mission to meet Trump demand

13 Feb 2020; MEMO: NATO is considering an increase to its training mission in Iraq to relieve the burden on the US-led coalition against Daesh, senior officials and diplomats said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

NATO and the coalition have non-combat “train-and-advise” missions which aim to develop Iraqi security forces but both are suspended over fears for regional stability after a US drone strike killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad on Jan. 3.

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